I recently bore witness to a post delivery dispute. Work had been fully complete. Most payment had been settled. Then at the death, internal customer politics appeared to stall the concluding payment.
With the top man client-side seemingly intent on withholding this final sum, a document was requested to shed light on every single activity undertaken. These referred less to actual work undertaken in fulfilment of the job, but more process-based progress through procedural checkpoints.
I saw a copy of a three-page report sent in the hope of triggering payment.
How would you approach crafting such a document?
What I saw was a listing of 18 numbered paragraphs. Each attempted to state a separate sequential event, now pertinent to releasing the cash.
It rambled. There was no coherent flow. It complicated rather than simplified. It confused instead of clarified.
My immediate thought when reading it was that the money would stay locked away. The dispute would remain destructively unresolved for a good while longer yet.
We all have to deal with disputes once in a while. A selling career cannot avoid the odd fire-fighting diversion from occasional downhill dive or mystifying mix-up. What was presented here was a poor attempt at legalese.
What should have been considered was something that drew out and compared each event with its consequence. The 18-bullet idea in itself could be made to work, but would need at least two columns for each point. And throughout, reference must be repeatedly hammered home as to why each action means payment cannot be reasonably withheld any more.
In fact, it is this inability to clearly relate each event to the desired explicit outcome that does so much to render the original doc ineffective.